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Aid Boost to the Pacific

  • March 21st, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

devt-aid-1.jpgThe European Union has announced expanded spending on overseas development aid including a boost in support for countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

The organisation’s development branch, EuropeAid, disclosed a total aid commitment for 2006, of 7.6-billion Euros (A$12.6-billion; 20.3.07), an increase of more than 55% in five years.

Countries in the European Union’s African-Caribbean-Pacific program have been described as winners this time, recording good increases in support.

Their joint allocation has gone up just under 9.5% in one year to EU 2.93-billion (A$ 4.86-billion).

The EU is by far the largest aid donor in the world, its toital programs accounbting for 52% of all development aid, to 150 countries.

In a field like water supply projects reaching twenty-million people, much emphasis is on Sub-Saharan regions, though there are four such projects in the Pacific.

Assistance also extends to support for administration and democratic government, where most recent examples have been election monitoring in Indonesia’s Aceh province and Fiji – with allocations also for elections to come in East Timor.

Koos Richelle, Director General, Europeaid Cooperation Office, said levels of support and co-operation were well distributed, with good progress in the Pacific region especially, where management also had been of a good standard.

“We consider we have been contributing an adequate amount to Pacific areas and they are the best performing that we have,” he said.

“They would be able to spend 200% of the money that we have available, but they spend 100% and we’ve been able to reinforce them a little with what we call our end of term review.

“Although it’s far away, we try to keep a good eye on what is happening over there.
“We have a delegation in Suva and in Papuua New Guinea; we have delegations in Australia and at Auckland …

“We get good political reports when there are problems as in Fiji, where we realise that the big powers in the region are not European powers, so we get in touch with the Australians then to see how we can give support…

“That is the only region where we have all the national programs integrated in one regional strategy, focusing on environment and sustainable development …

“If it is spolar or wind energy, or sustainable fishing, (you know the Japanese are there with the tuna fishing), they have our support.

“So the Pacific region is not forgotten, although far away.”

Mr Richelle said European aid systems had been reformed over six years after a period of scandals.

Managers and political leaders were concentrating on active consultations with governments in developing countries, and giving assistance in building up their management systems, to handle more management of programs.

Under EU policy and law there are strict standards for democratic practice and against official corruption.

Mr Richelle said efforts were being made to reduce and simplify reporting on how money was spent, so that the process could be accurate but manageable.

Picture: Koos Richelle speaks at the EuropeAid centre in rue de la Loi, central Brussels.